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Thursday, April 08, 2021

I can See Clearly Now


"I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It's gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day." ~ lyrics from Bright Sunshiny Day by Jimmy Cliff


     It has been just over four long years since Les died. The last year of his life was a tough one on us both with my having both knees replaced. I've suffered from depression since I was a small child and throughout most of my life. Les' illness and death dropped me deep into a bottomless trough of grief, and some of the darkest years I've had since childhood. Giving up my life on the boat in the UK and struggling to find work in the U.S. was the final straw for me. I gave up on life. I moved in with my youngest daughter, my daughter-in-law and my foster daughter, and I let go of life, sinking into a depression so debilitating I spent eighteen hours a day in bed most days, and barely slept for four hours out of twenty four. I managed to take care of my end of family chores: cooking, cleaning house, household laundry, menu planning and buying groceries. The rest of the time I lost myself in books or movies or in my own head.
     I've been living in Oregon now for sixteen months. I finally did some research and chose a Primary Care Physician from the insurance coverage I have, after experiencing Posterior Vitreous Detachment of the gel filled sac in my right eye. It turns out that my choices included a Naturopathic Physician who is also a PCP, and specializes in gastro-intestinal diseases (like Crohn's). She is fabulous and I feel so lucky that I don't have to rely on a typical western allopathic doctor as my PCP. Dr. Crisp, being an ND as as well as an MD, is far more thorough in collecting patient history and ordering tests to determine health issues. She ordered an extensive panel of blood tests for me with life changing results.
     One of the tests indicated I have a genetic mutation which means I do not produce enough Amylase to break down carbohydrates. This explains why I have always detested cereal for breakfast and my body needs protein in order to begin my day on a good footing. There are digestive enzymes I can take but since I am heterozygous for this genetic anomaly (meaning I received this from only one of my parents, thus have only one copy of this genetic mutation), I can address the issue by drinking a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in eight ounces of water before my meals. I also have a genetic mutation from my mother's side which means I don't process lactase so I drink Lactose free (LF) milk, and use LF dairy products when necessary.
     The third genetic mutation is called MTHFR and is homozygous for me, meaning I received the same genetic mutation from both of my parents, producing a double whammy. I cannot process Folate which is vitamin B6!
     This has severe repercussions across the sphere of human health, causing birth defects such as neural tube defects in babies such as Spina Bifida and Encephalopathy. (If a pregnant woman takes prenatal vitamins then the baby will absorb the folate even if mom cannot.) Other health issues caused by folate deficiency are extreme fatigue, lack of energy, headaches, pale skin, heart palpitations, tinnitus, mouth ulcers often mistaken for cold sores, pins and needles in hands and feet, disturbed vision, irritability, depression, a decline in one's mental abilities such as judgement, memory, and understanding (dementia), reduced sense of taste, reduced ability to make and repair DNA and produce red blood cells which leads to anemia because one produces too few RBC's to move iron and oxygen throughout the body. Folate insufficiency can cause premature graying of the hair, and growth problems. A final serious issue with folate deficiency is a tendency towards severe depression and Schizophrenia.
     According to Dr. Crisp, statistics indicate that approximately 1.5-15% of the U.S, population have this genetic anomaly. That is 1.4 million to 52 million people! There are also repercussions with at least thirty-four pharmaceutical drugs and the inability to process folate. (capecitabine, carbamazepine, cholestyramine, colestipol, divalproex sodium, eslicarbazepine, ethosuximide, ethotoin, felbamate, fluorouracil, fosphenytoin, lamotrigine, mephenytoin, mephobarbital, methotrexate, methsuximide, oxcarbazepine, pancreatin, pancrelipase, phenobarbital, phensuximide, phenytoin, primidone, pyrimethamine, rufinamide, sulfadiazine, sulfadoxine, sulfamethizole, sulfamethoxazole, sulfasalazine, sulfisoxazole, triamterene, trimethoprim, valproic acid)
     Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug used to treat some cancers and most auto-immune diseases. It is one of the drugs the internist wanted to prescribe for me to "treat" Crohn's disease. Fortunately I refused to take it and opted for non-pharmaceutical treatment. The issue obviously is that 99.9% of western allopathic physicians do not do the blood panel tests like a Naturopathic physician will do. Inevitably this causes a person like myself to display side effects of a drug that is contra-indicated for someone with the MTHFR mutation, Instead of ordering the blood test for this genetic mutation most doctors will prescribe other pharmaceutical drugs to address the side effects, causing a chain reaction of side effects and drug issues that really can and do endanger patients' lives and mental and physical well being.
     Alcohol strips the body of B vitamins so those of us who cannot process folate should avoid alcohol to any degree. This stripping of the B Vitamins by alcohol contributes to some of the severe issues experienced by alcoholics such as brittle hair and nails, mental confusion, memory issues, depression, and DDTs when stopping alcohol intake suddenly.
     Finally one of the side effects I need to watch for is DVT--Deep Vein Thrombosis which can cause a stroke induced by a blood clot. This leads me to wonder about the issues that have arisen with the Astro-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccination. Is it possible the individuals who have suffered from strokes upon receiving this vaccination do so because they are hetero or homozygous for the MTHFR gene mutation?
     Dr. Crisp prescribed a methylfolate brand of Vitamin B complex for me. I've been taking it for a week now and it is astonishing to me the difference it has made in my life! I no longer drag around feeling like I've been reincarnated as a limp dish rag. I am no longer completely physically and mentally exhausted. I wake up in the morning and I have energy like I had when I was in my teens and early twenties! It isn't a fizzy, jittery energy like one gets from caffeine or sugar; it is a calm, buoyed, good feeling of energy that is sustained throughout my entire day. At the end of the day when I am tired, I now experience tiredness and not exhaustion. It had been so long since I have felt this way, I had forgotten there was a difference! I thought to myself, " Jaq you are just old now. You've had a very difficult life and the stress of sixty-four years of living, surviving, losing Les, starting life over repeatedly; it has just taken its toll on you and this is just the way life is."
     Additionally I am no longer dragging the abyssal bottom of depression and grief. I no longer feel like life is hopeless and I just want to die and get it over with. I no longer feel as though I am struggling to make it through one more day. I feel calm, serene, and my thoughts are no longer foggy. Before I started taking the methylfolated B vitamins, I had real trouble following other people's thoughts to a conclusion. Everything seemed hazy and confusing and my memory was full of holes and yet my mind raced to try and absorb information throughout every sleepless night. For four years I have suffered from Anhedonia--the inability to find pleasure in anything. That is gone now and I find myself actually smiling for no reason except I feel like a completely different person.
     I have other non-pharmaceutical prescriptions from Dr Crisp. I start one at a time for two weeks before adding another one, so I can judge for myself what, if any effects I may be experiencing. I just added 5-HTP which she prescribed to help me sleep. This is actually a hormone which boosts Serotonin levels, helping one sleep better by converting the Serotonin to Melatonin. It aids in weight loss by making one feel fuller, and inhibits the production of calories produced by carbs which improves blood sugar control. 5-HTP improves the symptoms of fibromyalgia, depression, and migraine headaches. I've been taking this for three days now and I have slept six hours a night and awakened feeling rested for the first time in nearly eight years.
     I am fortunate that my health insurance coverage also covers Chiropractic care and Acupuncture. I'd never had Acupuncture before but I decided to give it a try. This is a treatment which involves unblocking energy nodes or points and allowing energy of Chi to move freely. Witches work primarily with energy--their own, that of nature and the earth, and other beings. I've worked with energy for over thirty years so I was anxious to begin this therapy. I've had three treatments over a month and it is extremely interesting; very subtle--at least for me. My Acupuncturist is working on physical and emotional health points. Some people cry, experience very vivid emotions, and memories well up when emotional points are triggered.
     The first treatment was on physical points only. It didn't hurt at all to have the needles inserted. At the end of the session I sat up and thought, "Well I don't really feel any different." I almost didn't book a return appointment. About halfway home I suddenly felt a bit light headed and realized I felt as though my spirit had slipped sideways maybe, but it wasn't tethered in to my physical body as deeply as before I had the session. I drove home slowly, drank a lot water, and took a nap. When I woke I felt good, and I could feel my energy zipping up and down my spine. The second treatment began on emotional node points. I left feeling good and realized later that afternoon I felt as though a literal ton of weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I have five more treatments approved so I am looking forward to each of them. Between the Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and supplements I no longer have any physical pain in my body due to arthritis or anything else! It is such a blessing to move without chronic pain.
     I am grateful to my daughter Shiery (Sparky), my daughter-in-law Kelli, and my foster daughter Mary, for their kindness, encouragement, love and acceptance of me in the awful state I was in when I came to them. I thank them for making room for me in their family and helping me find my place within it. I hope soon, to be able to take up writing again and perhaps painting, which I have not done for over thirty years.

26 comments:

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Lovely to read that you are looking up instead of down, Jaq darling!
Sending big virtual hugs, Mxxoo

Patti said...

Beautiful Jaq! I'm so glad you got some REAL answers and the progress in your body, spirit and mind really come across on the page. Post Covid has been hard for me too, and my acupuncturist has totally brought back my energy and clarity as well, so I'm grateful for these alternative medicines to help us get where we need to be. I'm glad you are healing into life and the fullness of it again. Many Blessings to you, my dear friend!

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Marilyn. I really despaired of ever feeling pleasure in life ever again. To discover the main issue was a vitamin imbalance was shocking and liberating. I am so thankful my PCP ordered the extensive blood panel and pinpointed the issue.

I hope you and David are doing well!

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Patti! It has been a long, dark, hopeless feeling slog. It feels so good to be able to find beauty in life again and to feel like engaging in living.

I hope you and Steve, and all your family continue to be well and safe!

Love Jaq xxx

Charmaine said...

Jaq,

This is such a heartening message to hear. I am so glad.

I have wanted to say something to you for several years, but you were so, so grief-ridden. it's this: you have to decide whether Les was the best thing in life to happen to you, or the worst.

What you do with the rest of your life is the answer.

With love,

Charmaine

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Charmaine,

Yes you are correct about that. He was the best thing to happen to me which makes losing him the worst thing to happen, and giving up the boat and all. I was so ill and exhausted. I miss it every day, but now, with the near miraculous change in my health, I am hopeful again about the future and it is good. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Stay well and safe!

Love Jaq xxx

Anonymous said...

WOW and OMG Jaq. I am so Thrilled to hear the good news. You are a new person. And it's Spring! Hallelujah! I ached for you knowing what a bad place you were in both physically and emotionally. It's Wonderful to get the good news! Excited to see where this new Jaq will take herself. And I will go back and reread and take notes from your blog. The universe was finally in your corner when you got your new doctor. Soooooooooo thrilled! Love Karen, in Pullman

Carol said...

Hi Jaq, it was so good to read this blog post and see that you are feeling so, so much better both in body and spirit making life so much more refreshing and worth while. George and I wish you and your family all the very best and send love and hugs.

Jennie said...

Hello Jaq, What a wonderful post to wake up to. I cannot tell you how pleased we both are to hear that you have turned a corner and are feeling better than you have in years. Do take care and we both hope that improve day on day. Love Jennie and Chris x

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Karen,

Thank you! And yes, it is really wonderful to wake up every day filled up with good, calm, positive energy, and feeling it last throughout my day; to feel my mind clear and my memory improve and to smile for no apparent reason when I thought I would never have anything to smile about ever again. The bonus of having NO physical pain is amazing. I am deeply thankful and so pleased to share what I've learned in the hopes others might benefit from it too.

Stay safe, stay well!

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Carol.

Thank you! What a long road its been! Several times my daughter asked me why didn't I kill myself if I was so deeply miserable I didn't want to be alive. I told her the only thing stopping me was the belief that there are no easy outs in life and I could not do that to myself or those left behind. It feels grand to feel so good! To know that it wasn't old age, or lifelong depression caught up to me, or grief so deep it became despair, but something easily treatable with methylated B vitamins!

I miss you and George dearly and wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and safe spring!

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Jennie!

Thank you, and thanks for sticking by me through thick and thin over the years as many others here have done as well. The difference in one week with the supplements feels like a miracle--it really does.

Happy spring to you and Chris! Stay safe, stay well!

Love Jaq xxx

Mike Todd said...

Great to hear that you have found someone who is so in tune with your approach to yourself that they can really help you. Let's hope that the progress continues equally well and that 'real' life returns on a permanent basis. Who knows? Maybe you will even venture back across The Pond to remind yourself of life on the canals once we are permitted (soon) to travel again.

life afloat on nb tickety boo said...

Hi Jaq, you have no idea how happy I am to hear you are doing not just ok but great! I knew you were finding things a struggle but I had no idea just how much of a struggle, I am so sorry. It seems the sun has come out in your life again and if anybody deserves that you do! Keep on being your beautiful happy self. Sending you lots of love xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mike,
Thank you. I look at boats for sale and dream of moving back. Time will tell. It is such a relief to be able to even consider tomorrow with hope and anticipation.

Stay well, stay safe!

Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Thank you Deb. The last four years have been an awful purgatory for me and I didn't see any end to it. It is truly miraculous that a blood test could find this genetic anomaly which wreaks such havoc on one's body and mind and it could be remedied with the proper kind of vitamin B! I am deeply grateful to my doctor, and thankful to be on the mend.

stay safe, stay well!

Love Jaq xxx

nb Chuffed said...

Jaq, I am so pleased for you! At last you can enjoy life again and feel well and pain-free.
What adventures will you get up to now?
love,
Debby and Dave

Anonymous said...

Hi Jaq,
I am so glad you have found real help for your you and your life. Although you can know things are awful, one doesn't always know just how terribly bad they were until you get to climb out of the hole. Acupuncture is great and Portland is a good place to find it. Thank you for sharing your journey because others out there are suffering as well. Congratulations on finding your new self and Happy Spring!

Take care.

Love,
Lenore

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Debby, Well I am not sure. Just at this moment I am getting used to being in my body again instead of my awareness tucked away in my head somewhere.We will see what life holds!!!

I hope you and Dave are holding up through this pandemic. I check in with your blog but haven't left any comments. Stay safe, stay well!!

Love Jaq xxx

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Lenore! Lovely to hear from you. It is just as you say. I truly hope this information may help others, as this MTHRFR gene mutation is truly debilitating gone unrecognized, and fix is so simple and life changing.

I hope you, Doug, and your family are all doing well. Stay safe!

Love Jaq xxx

Judith nb Serena said...

Wow Jaq what can I say that hasn't already been said. I am so pleased that you have had a diagnosis that has put your health back on track and you are obviously feeling so much better. May you go from strength to strength. Will have to reread it all.
Love and hugs. Judith nb Serena XXX

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Judith,
Thank you. I am still reeling a bit at the changes inside myself. It was a long, long slog downhill to the point I found my doctor and started the supplements she prescribed. It will be a bit of a hike back to where I want to be but at lest now I can lift my head once more, I can feel the desire to begin the journey step by step, to look up for the far horizon.

I hope you, John, and your family are all safe and well!

Love Jaq xxx

Boatwif said...

Hi Jaq,
This is all such good news - we are so pleased and relieved that you have discovered a way forward. How wonderful that a battery of tests and a professional's expertise could get to the root of the trouble. I so remember you saying that your body craved protein at the start of the day when you were staying with us...

I am so glad that you are finding there are pleasures still to be had in this life, whether they be little things or awe-inspiring moments.

With huge love and virtual hugs,

Sue /Boatwif /nb Cleddau

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Dear Sue,

Thank you! It is such a relief to know that there was something wrong that was totally out of my control, and so easily remedied with the right professional tests. It was good as well to have a test confirm something I've instinctively known my while life (the need for protein over carbs--especially at the beginning of the day).

Thank you both as well for steadfastly standing by me through thick and thin. I miss you both and with I were there in person to offer my thanks with a hug.

Stay safe, stay well!

Love Jaq xxx

Mike & Phill Muir said...

Good day, Jaq. Well, some progress has been made, we are very glad to hear it. Keep on keeping on and posting updates.

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mike and Phill!

I will do my best. It feels so good to have the energy and will to lift my head off my pillow and get up to my feet and move again, with purpose. I did get your email with the pictures of your new mooring. You are located just across the way from where Les too possession of our new batteries. It is a sweet stretch of the cut.

Stay safe, stay well!

Love Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs